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Horror - Hannibal Rising

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Hannibal Rising
Gaspard Ulliel, Li Gong, Kevin McKidd
Directed by Peter Webber
Written by Thomas Harris
2007
117 minutes

It would take Viagra to get Hannibal Rising. This Thomas Harris scripted movie on the origins of Hannibal Lecter is long on everything except interest. Granted, Hannibal Lecter is a twisted guy but that is no reason to make a movie with more identities than Sybil: it is a thriller, a samurai movie, a love story, and a bit of a gory horror movie but none of the parts really work.

French actor Gaspard Ulliel is not bad as the young Hannibal Lecter if you can stop focusing on his off and on British upper-class accent but though he tries and the character is supposed to have it he cannot bring the flair of sophistication we associate with Lecter. The story itself, young boy during World War II loses all of his family, sees a bunch of soldiers of fortune kill and eat his sister and vows revenge, is not bad but not compelling.

Part of the reason why Hannibal Rising is like a failed soufflé is the secondary stories having to do with Hannibal's sort of love interest and the French detective who is sort of after him, When, after the war, he makes his way to France he finds shelter with his aunt who is a Hiroshima survivor. This sort of explains the Samurai stuff but is really only a reason for a scene where Hannibal Lecter tries on something like the mask that we all remember from Silence of the Lambs. Li Gong plays the aunt and she spends the movie trying to figure out why her character exists.

The detective who is more or less interested in capturing Hannibal is also a survivor as he lost his family during the war. He is at first shown to be as big a challenge as the detectives Lecter will meet later on in his life but then spends most of Hannibal Rising half-heartedly chasing Lecter, in part because the latter is going after war criminals.

Hannibal Rising has none of the tension or interest of Silence of the Lambs or even Red Dragon. If the main character's name was not Hannibal Lecter this movie would probably not have been made. It is much too long, tries to tell too many stories, and constantly fails to keep the viewer interested.

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